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BMW Hedges Bets on China EV Demand

BMW Group predicts China will become the world’s largest market for electric vehicles as more charging stations are built there and the government promotes cleaner cars to cut pollution.

As part of the partnership, the State Grid will build public charging points at the former World Expo site, one of 46 such areas the city is targeting by the end of the year where EV owners can power their cars.

BMW’s second vehicle from its i subbrand, the i8 plug-in hybrid, will go on sales in Europe next month, joining the i3 battery-powered compact that went on sale last November.

The automaker joins Volkswagen Group among automakers betting on vehicles with alternative powertrains to spark future growth in the world’s largest auto market.

VW plans to unveil more than 15 electrified models in China by 2018. Daimler is building electric vehicles with Chinese automaker BYD Co., while Tesla Motors delivered its first Model S cars in the country last month.

The public charging points at the former Expo site in Shanghai will be compatible with EVs made by BMW and other brands, including BYD and SAIC Motor Corp., though not for Tesla’s cars, according to Fan. Tesla has said it plans to install a large supercharger network in China.

BMW expects to start selling the i3 in China in September at seven dealerships and estimate they will sell fewer than 1,000 i3s this year in China because of a lack of supply.

Five years after China began promoting EVs, fewer than 70,000 are on its roads, lagging behind the central government’s target of reaching 500,000 by 2015.

 

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